Guide to English Courses

Chalkboard saying "what you will learn and when"

Courses at UTSC are offered at the A, B, C, and D Levels:

A-level courses introduce students to the study of English at university. ENGA01 and ENGA02 will teach you the fundamentals of reading, writing, and thinking about literature, and are introductory core courses required for our three English programs. ENGA03 is the equivalent for Creative Writing. Either ENGA10 or ENGA11 is required for the Literature and Film Minor. All of these courses are designed to be suitable for any students interested in literature, writing, and film.

B-level courses have no prerequisites and are available to both beginning and more advanced students. There are often required courses for programs at the B-level that will set students up with basic groundwork in historical or genre conventions. For instance, ENGB27 and ENGB28 are required for English Specialist and Major programs. Creative Writing students work their way through Fiction, Poetry, and Nonfiction with ENGB60, ENGB1, and ENGB63. Literature & Film students take ENGB70 and ENGB75 or ENGB76. 

C- level courses are designed to build upon previous work and presuppose some background in critical skills and familiarity with the subject matter. Once a student is at the C-level, they should feel free to treat our courses as an open adventure. Looking through our different Threads (clusters of related courses) is one way to navigate the selection process. Enrollment in most C-level courses require 6.0 completed university credits (from any discipline) but check the Calendar for individual course requirements and recommended preparation.

D-level courses provide opportunities for more sophisticated study and require some independent work on the part of the student. These courses are generally restricted in enrollment and focus on seminar discussion. Many of our D-levels are marked as “Topics” or “Studies in” a particular geographical or historical area and change their specific focus from semester to semester. Be sure to check the “Choosing your Courses” section of our website for the most updated course descriptions.

There are eight fundamental areas that you will develop at each level of your English program:

Writing & Creative Expression

This principle is at the core of what we do in all our programs. Students who graduate with an English, Creative Writing, or Film degree will be able to express themselves clearly, and with distinctiveness.

Critical Reading Skills

Our programs teach how to read closely and carefully, both for meaning and for message. The key ability of our discipline is to be able to go beyond what is said on the surface and determine complex layers of meanings and associations through close reading and interpretation.

Research Skills

Courses at UTSC English expose students to a number of different research tactics, from traditional academic research to real world research applications, including information literacy and navigating internet resources.

Communication & Collaboration

Our classes focus on building transferable skills like teamwork and how to share knowledge with others in a variety of formats. Students will have the opportunity to learn from their peers, and to learn by teaching their peers.

Disciplinary Knowledge

Part of what you'll learn in our program is the specific knowledge and vocabularies that belong to English as a discipline; from film terminology to an understanding of different genres and forms to poetic devices to the critical and theoretical methodologies for reading.

Contextual Knowledge

Our discipline is deeply anchored in other kinds of knowledge, such as history, geography, artistic movements, politics, philosophy, psychology, and social justice endeavors. Studying English, creative writing, and film will broaden your understanding of the world at large.

Awareness and Perspective

A primary goal of studying English at university is to help you recognize the perspectives of others - from distant places and times, to familiar and unfamiliar backgrounds - thereby coming to understand and properly situate your own perspective.

Questioning and Arguing

From your very first class at UTSC English, we will ask you to challenge what you know, and inquire into why we think the way we do. Every story - any artistic effort - has a story behind it and an impact beyond its intentions, and we want you to be able to confront these issues in thoughtful and productive ways.

You will engage with each of the eight core learning outcome categories at every stage of your program. While you don't have to move strictly sequentially through A, B, C, and D levels, the expectations for the depth and intensity of your engagement will increase as you progress. 

Below are some examples of the ways the 8 outcomes might be expressed through different course levels. Note that each course level description presumes a cumulative effect, meaning we expect the skills and knowledge of the A level to be practiced also at the B, C, and D levels. 


A Level: 

  • Become familiar with the fundamentals of critical argument and academic essays.
  • Produce short essays using discipline-specific conventions (formatting, structure, citation, style).
  • Discover the fundamentals of close reading to understand both literal and inferential meanings of texts.
  • Summon textual evidence to produce an argumentative or interpretation of a work.
  • Begin to learn research methods for supporting argumentative essays. 
  • Learn the fundamentals of peer review.
  • Develop effective modes of collaboration.
  • Begin to explore form and genre as well as the history of genres.
  • Learn in-discipline terms, concepts, and theoretical approaches.
  • Recognize how historical and cultural positionality shape interpretive perspectives.
  • Appreciate how literature and film introduces us to cultures, histories, and experiences beyond our own.
  • Recognize the ways in which literature and film deepen our understanding of the complexity of the human experience.
  • Begin to question and challenge inherited knowledge and assumptions.

B Level:

  • Build on the foundations of effective essay writing by constructing persuasive written arguments.
  • Develop sustained arguments by incorporating research in mid-length essays.
  • Amplify the capacity for listening and reading empathetically.
  • Practice close reading in relation to wider explorations of literary periods and cannons.
  • Acquire library and research skills, including information literacy, effective use of technology, and evaluation of sources.
  • Exercise oral forms of communication.
  • Practice peer-review and incorporating feedback into successive drafts.
  • Begin to incorporate terms, concepts, and theoretical approaches into analyses.
  • Become familiar with the organization of literature around literary periods.
  • Explore the ways history and society influence and are influenced by literature.
  • Explore the ways geography and culture shape texts and become familiar with the organization of literature and film by region and nation.
  • Challenge, question, and expand the boundaries of traditional cannons in light of new knowledge.
  • Increase complexity of analysis by considering how power relations affect our understanding of and access to literary texts.

C Level:

  • Produce short creative visual and digital projects in collaboration with peers.
  • Challenge “surface-level” interpretations through sustained argumentative essays based on close-reading analysis.
  • Assess the quality of scholarly sources and knowledge.
  • Present, challenge, and refine ideas through participation in class discussions and debates.
  • Practice collaboration, oral dissemination of research, and peer review.
  • Expand knowledge of authors, literary periods, genres, and regions, and their intersections.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of literary argumentation and research methodologies.
  • Develop an understanding of literature and film as a local endeavor.
  • Analyze and debate how cultural texts uphold or challenge the societies that made them.
  • Use research to develop strong and sustained lines of argument.
  • Interpret the power relations that motivate certain representations in literature and film.

D Level:

  • Design and write substantial and original research projects.
  • Synthesize feedback in multiple drafts.
  • Integrate various knowledges through independent creative-critical practice.
  • Gain advanced insight into textual meaning by employing advanced theoretical concepts.
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge of literary interpretation and argumentation.
  • Practice compiling annotative bibliographies and critical reviews of secondary sources.
  • Lead oral discussions in class.
  • Disseminate research in independent classroom presentations.
  • Engage in advanced peer review and works.
  • Develop specialized knowledge in advanced areas of the discipline.
  • Assess how literary and visual texts are mediated by material contexts.
  • Identify knowledge deficits in a body of critical scholarship.
  • Learn to transfer knowledge between fields and explore interdisciplinary methodologies.